Mentor LA

Australians in Film and Screen Australia Announce the launch of Mentor LA 2020 Program

Four Australians to be mentored by award-winning Hollywood creatives responsible for highly successful projects including Lion, Peter Rabbit, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Queen America

Australians in Film and Screen Australia today announced that BAFTA-winning and Oscar®-nominated writer Luke Davies (Lion, Beautiful Boy,) in-demand and award-nominated director Alethea Jones (Dollface, Queen America), Founder & CEO of Animal Logic Zareh Nalbandian (upcoming Peter Rabbit 2, Peter Rabbit, The LEGO Batman Movie) and Director of Creative Development, Columbia Pictures at Sony Pictures Entertainment Jiao Chen (currently working on Ghostbusters: Afterlife) will be this year’s mentors in MENTOR LA program, with applications now open.


This structured and bespoke practitioner development program is designed for mid-level screen professionals. AiF and Screen Australia are encouraging applications from groups currently underrepresented in the Australian screen industry. These include women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disabilities, LGBTQI and gender diverse people. Applicants must be Australian residents currently living in Australia.


Established in 2017, MENTOR LA consists of four one-hour sessions. Three sessions are held online, and one session is face-to-face in Los Angeles throughout 2020, commencing in April. The sessions are designed to provide mentees with personalized, first-hand knowledge of the challenges and knowledge these mentors have learnt from working in the highly competitive Hollywood system. Return Economy Airfares to Los Angeles and living expenses will be covered while in Los Angeles for the five days of the final session.


Executive Director of Australians in Film Peter Ritchie says. “Australians in Film’s mission is to help develop a robust and progressive community of Australian screen storytellers working internationally and MENTOR LA is an opportunity for established screen professionals to give back and provide development to under-represented screen creatives, who may not necessarily have been given the same shot because of the current imbalance in the screen industry. We are enormously grateful for Screen Australia’s continued support of our mission and, in particular this program.”


MENTOR LA applications are now open until April 3rd. The program will run throughout 2020, with sessions every two months.


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Alethea Jones

Alethea is a writer / director / producer with an inclination towards elevated and comedic storytelling in film and television.  Currently, she is attached to direct the technicolor musical TheBig Gay Jamboree (Paramount Studios). Alethea has directed episodes of TV including Lodge 49 (AMC), Dollfacewith Kat Dennings (Hulu) and Wrecked (TBS). She directed and Executive produced the following two series: Dispatches from Elsewhere starring Sally Field, Jason Segel and Richard E. Grant (AMC) and Queen America starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Judith Light (Facebook Watch).  She is currently in production on 5 episodes of a new grounded sci-hi comedy for HBO Max called Made for Love with Ray Romano, Kristin Millioti and Billy Magnussen. She also has a series in development with HBO Max called Classified.


Jiao Chen

Jiao Chen is the Director of Creative Development at Columbia Pictures, a label under the Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group. He is currently working on some of the studio’s biggest titles including the recently released box office success, Bad Boys for Life, and upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Uncharted.  Before joining Sony Pictures, Jiao was a Creative Executive at Fox 2000. At Fox, he worked on Breakthrough and helped shepherd adaptations of literary properties including the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Children of Blood and Bone. Jiao started his career in Hollywood working as an assistant for producer Dan Lin.


Luke Davies

Australian-born, Los Angeles-based Luke Davies is an internationally renowned, award-winning screenwriter, novelist and poet. Davies’ screenplay Lion (Director: Garth Davis: Producers: See Saw Films) was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, and won the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Davies’ adaptation Beautiful Boy (Plan B / Amazon Studios) is directed (and co-written) by Oscar-nominated Felix von Groeningen (Broken Circle Breakdown), produced by Oscar-winners Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner (12 Years a Slave). Released October 2018. Davies’ television mini-series adaptation of the Joseph Heller novel Catch-22, produced by Anonymous Content, Hulu and Paramount Television, co-written with David Michôd, directed by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Ellen Kuras, shot in Italy in 2018 and released in May 2019. News of the World, Davies’ next feature project, is an adaptation of Paulette Jiles’ bestselling novel, and is set up at Universal Studios, with Gail Mutrux and Tom Hanks / Playtone producing; Tom Hanks will star in the lead role and Paul Greengrass will direct. Davies is currently working on the adaptation of the book The Most Dangerour Man in America by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L Davis, as a limited series for Wiip and Starthrower. Woody Harrelson is attached to star, and as an executive producer.


Zareh Nalbandian

Zareh Nalbandian, Animal Logic’s Co-Founder and CEO, has been developing and producing large-scale screen projects for over 25 years and has collaborated with iconic directors and artists on some of the most successful feature films of our time. Since leading Animal Logic’s expansion into feature film visual effects in 1996 and feature animation in 2006, Zareh has guided one of the most respected artistic and technical cultures in the industry. Zareh was Executive Producer on The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Movie 2, Academy Award winning Happy Feet, The LEGO Batman Movie, The LEGO Ninjago Movie and Producer on Peter Rabbit 2, Peter Rabbit and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. Zareh is the Deputy Chair of Ausfilm, a board member of the Sydney Film Festival and a member of the Producer’s Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Australians in Film Mentorship Program Supported by


Screen Australia is the Australian Federal Government agency charged with supporting Australian screen content through development, production and promotion across television, film, documentary and digital originals. The agency administers Australia’s official co-production program, in addition to the Producer Offset tax rebate which assists eligible television, film and online works to be made. Screen Australia provides a range of resources and opportunities to the industry including access to research, market intelligence plus special initiatives such as its highly success Gender Matters program. For more information visit